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The Positive Cup

Red coffee cherries

Sustainability as a business imperative

Sustainability is a business imperative for Nespresso, a company that relies on a natural resource to deliver coffee quality and consistency to consumers. Our sustainability approach builds on the Nestlé principle of Creating Shared Value and the belief that in order for our business to prosper in the long term, so too must the communities that we work with. We understand that we have a significant role to play in bringing about the social, environmental and economic conditions that are required to achieve this. We are committed to integrating sustainability across our business and creating shared value and positive impact for farmers, business partners and consumers. We see ourselves as a catalyst for change going beyond our own operations.


Committed to sustainability for over 25 years

Our sustainability journey started in 1991 when we first implemented capsule collection systems in Switzerland. We began embedding sustainability in our value chain in 2003 with the launch of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. This unique coffee sourcing approach enables us to secure highest quality coffee for our consumers far into the future, while improving the economic, environmental and social impacts of coffee growing. The AAA Program has also provided an unparalleled framework for coffee innovation, by forming direct and lasting relationships with farmers built on mutual trust and commitment to create shared value.

We integrated sustainability across our business in 2009 with Ecolaboration™, a company-wide program to drive sustainable development throughout the Nespresso value chain, from coffee farming to consumption. We successfully met, and in some cases surpassed, the sustainability commitments we set in 2009 in order to significantly enhance our sustainability performance by the end of 2013.

Today, over 80% of the coffee Nespresso sources comes from our AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. We have put in place the capacity to collect over 86% of Nespresso capsules sold worldwide and have reduced the carbon footprint of a cup of Nespresso coffee by 20,7%.



Read more about our unique approach to sustainability in producing countries.

Read more about our approach to aluminium recycling.

Read more about our initiatives to optimise our environmental performance.


AAA coffee farmer from Colombia

Creating positive impact with The Positive Cup

The Positive Cup sustainability strategy builds on significant steps we have been taking since 2003 to improve farmer welfare and drive environmental sustainability in coffee farming and consumption. We believe that each cup of Nespresso coffee has the potential not only to deliver a moment of pleasure for our consumers, but also restore, replenish and revive environmental and human resources. This is The Positive Cup vision: a cup of coffee that can create shared value and a greater, positive impact on society and the environment. As part of this vision, Nespresso set new goals sustainability ambitions in the areas of coffee sourcing and social welfare; aluminium sourcing, use and disposal; and resilience to climate change. This strategy will be supported by a CHF500 million investment.


Our 2020 sustainability ambition with The Positive Cup

Specifically, by 2020 we aim to:

Coffee – 100% sustainably sourced coffee

  • Source 100% of our permanent range of Grand Cru coffees sustainably through the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program by significantly expanding the AAA Program in Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan, and investing over CHF 15 million in these countries over six years.
  • Assist farmers to achieve high certification standards (in water management, biodiversity and fair treatment of workers, for example) through Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade.
  • Pursue innovative solutions to farmer welfare, including the expansion of our AAA Farmer Future Program initially through a retirement savings plan for farmers in Colombia.


Aluminium – 100% sustainably managed aluminium

  • Expand our capacity to collect used Nespresso capsules to 100% wherever the company does business and increase recycling rates.
  • Recycle Nespresso capsules collected by the company into new Nespresso capsules each time it makes sense environmentally (for example, in UK, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria and Italy).
  • Source 100% of virgin aluminium capsule material compliant with the new Aluminium Stewardship Initiative standard, developed within a multi-stakeholder program co-founded by Nespresso together with the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) and other industry leaders.


Climate – 100% carbon efficient operations

  • Further reduce by 10% the carbon footprint of our company.
  • Strengthen coffee farm resilience to climate change and help reverse the degradation of natural ecosystems through an extensive agroforestry program in the AAA regions (planting about 10 million trees).
  • Become 100% carbon efficient in our operations by compensating our residual operational carbon footprint through the same agroforestry program. This mechanism consists in planting trees within Nespresso value chain so that the benefits delivered by the trees on top of carbon sequestration (for instance, soil regeneration, water availability…) can benefit the Nespresso value chain partners.


Nespresso Sustainability Advisory Board members

Working together for a sustainable future

The sustainability milestones we have achieved so far are essential, but they are only part of a continuous, complex journey that must be taken together. A strong network of partners, both local and global, plays an essential role in meeting our shared sustainability vision. This includes local coffee cooperatives, regional suppliers, NGOs, civil society organisations, government agencies, global financial institutions, research bodies and other businesses.

The Positive Cup is supported by the Nespresso Sustainability Advisory Board (NSAB), a collaborative platform comprising of sustainability experts that plays an important role in shaping our sustainability approach and informing the development of innovative and impactful programs. The NSAB includes representatives from the Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, TechnoServe, IUCN, Pur Projet and Nespresso management, amongst others.

To find out more about some of our specific sustainability initiatives, refer to our sustainability case studies.